Author's Note: I was shocked by the overwhelmingly kind response to my first story, and wanted to write something fun in return for all of the positive comments and encouragement. This is a good old adventure tale in the style of TOS with a healthy amount of snark and trio bonding. Set, say, two years into the 5YM, so post-STID. As always, please alert me to any errors, grammatical or otherwise, you find. I hope you enjoy!
Also, I'm working on a super-long kidfic if anyone's interested. It's an AU where Spock moves to Earth and meets Bones and Jim, and tbh it's mostly self-indulgent fluff. I do have some major plot points (including Tarsus IV and Spock's unfortunate adventures at the VSA) planned out, so if that sounds like something you'd enjoy let me know in a comment or PM :)
Save the small, struggling human colony, the planet was empty of intelligent life. Its surface was covered almost entirely by oceans, which was good for the giant sea monsters that dwelled in their depths (including the particularly nasty krakgey, a large, multi-tentacled creature that had been harassing the colonists for months) and not so good for the colonists. Len had no idea what idiot had decided to try and settle the place- probably the same kind of idiot that went on five-year missions to the depths of space.
It was a milk run for the Enterprise, but they'd been instructed to make themselves (and the Federation) look good, so Jim and Spock were both beaming to the surface with the supplies the colony so desperately needed. Jim was dragging Len along to offer medical assistance to anyone who needed it, which actually sort of did make sense (though Len wouldn't admit it.)
Most of the away teams Jim joined ended up needing a doctor in the end, anyway.
Then the goddamned transporter stopped working, and they'd nearly been disintegrated into nothingness when it failed in the middle of transport. Now, Len would have been perfectly happy to call it a fucking day and hide in his quarters until he stopped hyperventilating (fucking transporters, he'd always hated the damn things!) but Jim was a bastard, so they ended up in a shuttle.
And no, Jim, his aviophobia had not "gone away" after three fucking years in deep space.
He was okay for about the first ten minutes, sitting with his head tucked between his knees and snarling whenever Jim or Spock so much as breathed too loud from the cockpit. But then, as things had a tendency to do on the Enterprise, everything went to shit. It started with, 'just a little bit of turbulence, Bones,' got worse around, 'um, did we really need that part?' and by, 'oh shit, Spock, I think the engine might be a little broken,' Bones found himself puking up the remains of his lunch. It soon became very apparent that their 'perfectly functioning' shuttlecraft was malfunctioning in a big way, and yeah, okay, the ocean was definitely looking bigger in the view screen than it had before.
As they were plummeting towards certain death, Len had a thought-the moment he'd met Jim Kirk:
I think these things are pretty safe…
Don't pander to me, kid.
Jesus H. Christ, his life was one big fucking cosmic joke.
Luckily Jim and Spock, while still two of the biggest idiots Len had ever met, were also big ridiculous geniuses. Jim had a natural knack for mechanics, and Spock worked computer systems like a dream. Between the two of them, they managed to get the remains of the shuttle working well enough to not die on impact. Meaning, instead of exploding a lot, they only exploded a little.
He hated new planets.
The crash was fuzzy- Len remembered hitting the surface and the craft splitting in two, struggling out of his safety harness and breaking open the emergency hatch, and kicking his way out of the sinking shuttle. The fight to the surface was a blur- his lungs were burning by the end, and when he finally emerged he was wheezing, but alive and relatively unscathed.
Jim surfaced a few meters away, gasping, and Len waved him over to where he was clinging to a blessedly buoyant segment of a control panel, ironically marked Use Only in Cases of Emergency.
"You okay?" he asked immediately, and Jim nodded.
"Yeah," he said breathlessly, "Yeah, I think so-"
"Where's Spock?" Len asked. Jim froze.
"I…I thought I saw him…fuck."
"What?" he asked, but he had a horrible feeling he knew the answer. After all, Vulcan had been a desert planet.
"Spock can't swim," Jim breathed, and then he dove under the surface.
Len cursed and slammed his fist into what remained of the hull. "Then why the hell would he come down to a planet fucking covered with water?!" he bellowed at the open air. The air didn't answer.
It didn't help that his mind was already in doctor mode, pulling up everything his xenobiology studies could offer about the effects of overexposure to cold and wet conditions on Vulcans. But hell, they might not even have to worry about that if Jim didn't resurface with their friend soon- the effects of drowning were the same for everyone.
After a few pretty horrible moments in which Len convinced himself that they were both dead on the bottom of the ocean, Jim and Spock surfaced. Jim was hauling Spock along; the Vulcan looked conscious, if not particularly alert. Len breathed a sigh of relief and pushed the panel he was hanging on towards the struggling pair. Jim grabbed it and shoved Spock in his direction, taking a moment to catch his breath.
"I thought they required swimming lessons at the Academy?!" Len snarled, hauling Spock farther onto the panel as the first officer coughed violently, forcing water from his lungs. Jim treaded next to them, panting.
"There was…an exemption," Spock gasped, spitting out saltwater as Len pounded him on the back, "For species incompatible with large bodies of water. I applied. They didn't…object to..." He coughed again and tried without success to wipe his face dry.
"Like a goddamned cat," Len groused, frowning when Spock began to shiver. "Jim, we gotta out of here, he shouldn't be in the water for too long."
"I'm perfectly c-capable-"
"You're using contractions and shaking like a fall leaf in a hurricane, so shut it and try to stay warm. Jim, seriously-"
"You're telling me," Jim snapped, rubbing water out of his eyes and squinting at their surroundings. "If you've got any ideas, gentlemen, I'd love to hear them."
"Our communicators should be waterproof. I misplaced mine d-during the wreck."
"Well knowing Starfleet's all-star quality, they aren't as waterproof as you'd think," Jim muttered, reaching for his belt. He got a handful of wires and circuits. "Shit, mine's busted. Bones?"
"Yeah, I'm working on it…it's in one piece, at least. Take a look."
Jim reached out and carefully grabbed the device, beginning to fiddle with it. Spock continued gripping the panel and tried (unsuccessfully) to suppress his shaking.
"Got it," said Jim after a moment, flipping the communicator open. It crackled to life, and they all let out a breath of relief. "Kirk to Enterprise."
"Scotty, try to boost the signal, our communicators were damaged in the crash."
"Ye…at…sir? Is that better?"
"Yeah, I hear you."
"Fantastic. Now, how in the hell did you all manage to crash one of my shuttles?"
Jim scowled. "How about you ask your staff why it wasn't checked properly before liftoff? Hard to fly when your engine's shot to hell."
There was a dangerous silence.
"…Aye, Captain. I'll assume that was permission to nail that person's bloody useless hide to the bulkhead, sir?
"Consider it an order, Mr. Scott. Can someone pick us up? We're kind of stuck in the middle of the fucking ocean, here."
"You got it, sir. Team's on their way."
"Thanks. Do me a favor and check their fucking shuttle first."
Now Scotty just sounded embarrassed. "I'll see to it personally, sir."
"Great. Kirk out," Jim said, snapping the communicator shut…and then he winced.
Len knew all of Jim Kirk's faces, and that was his 'I'm hiding an injury because I'm a stupid moron who likes to give my doctor panic attacks' face.
"What's wrong?" he asked immediately, and Jim looked at him guiltily.
"I'm okay," he said, and Len actually growled.
"How're you hurt, you idiot? You bust up your ribs again?"
"No! I'm fine, Bones."
"The Captain sustained injuries to his left leg while escaping from the wreckage," Spock said promptly. Jim scowled at him.
"How bad, Jim?
"Bones, it's…it's just a cut, okay? We've got bigger problems-"
Len snapped. "You know what? No. I am not dealing with this martyr bullshit today. It is just one fucking disaster after the other with you two, and at the end of the day do you know who's patchin' you up? ME. It's bad luck even standing next to you idiots on a transporter pad!"
Spock glanced up sharply, and Len had the feeling he was itching for a fight just as much as he was. "Blaming the Captain and myself for a mechanical failure beyond our control indicates irrationality, and as always, your belief in 'luck' continues to suggest a superstitious mindset quite unbecoming of a scientist-"
He'd give him a godamned fight. "Fuck you and your 'unbecoming mindsets,' Spock, especially considering how just last week I saved your sorry ass from that phaser wound-"
"A fact for which I am most grateful, Doctor, and one of the reasons why I am consistently perplexed by your displays of paranoia despite your medical competence."
"Um," Jim said faintly, "Guys? I think something just touched my leg…"
Len barreled on. "And of course that green ice-water you call blood ain't doin' you no favors in this environment-"
"I assure you, Doctor, I am perfectly content with the many differences in our anatomy."
"Guys, really though, something's underneath us, I…what the fuck-"
"Furthermore, I would appreciate it if you ceased your illogical, unhelpful behavior."
Len spluttered. "You-! That's it, I've had it up to here with both of y'all-"
Len and Spock looked at him. Jim pointed weakly over their heads.
"Um," he said. "Tell me I'm hallucinating, please."
A krakgey was towering over them, looking down speculatively with one of its huge, bulbous yellow eyes.
"Oh," said Len in a very small voice. The thing roared, sending waves in every direction and drenching the officers again. When they emerged, the creature was still there, staring at them smugly. Your move, it seemed to say, and Len had to admit that they really didn't have the upper hand.
"Okay," said Jim. The creature opened and closed its mouth, revealing rows of sword-like teeth. They winced. "Okay. So, um…do we run, or heroically accept our fate?"
"Spock can't swim," Len reminded him, swallowing heavily, and oh God, was the monster licking its lips?
"Go," said Spock immediately. "I will stay behind."
"Yeah, fuck that," Len snapped. "No one's bein' left behind. Besides, we couldn't out-swim that thing even if we had fins and gills."
"…Heroic death it is," Jim said. When he looked at them, his eyes were bright and pained. "I'm sorry, guys."
Len grasped his arm. "It's not your fault, Jim," he said. His throat felt tight.
"…No," said Spock suddenly, and then he let go of the panel and dove under water.
"Motherfucker!" Jim bellowed, immediately diving after him. Len flailed for a moment, realized he didn't have a choice, cursed his idiot friends, and dunked under to follow them.
Under the surface, his eyes widened in shock.
Spock was melding with the thing.
He was grasping with one hand onto one of the lazily floating tentacles (oh Jesus, something had been touching Jim's leg), face drawn in concentration. Next to him, Jim was shaking his shoulder and clearly screaming his name, but making no move to stop him. Len knew immediately why- who knew what would short-circuit in Spock's head if they broke the meld manually?
And then he thought-air.
He kicked out at Jim frantically and gestured wildly upwards. Jim cast one last despairing glance at Spock before kicking towards the surface. The minute they emerged, he was cursing.
"Idiot's gonna get himself killed, or give himself fucking brain-damage-"
"Yeah," Len said anxiously, "But not from the monster. Breathing, Jim, he's gotta breathe!"
Jim stared at him, and then went gray. "Shit," he whispered. "How long can Vulcans last underwater?"
"How should I know?! Vulcans don't go underwater; they're a desert species, Jim! But hey, why would he ever take his required swimming lessons to make sure he wouldn't die on away missions? Tell me, what's the goddamned 'logic' in that-"
"Spock," Jim reminded him, and dove again. Len grumbled, took a breath, and followed him.
Spock was in the same position they'd left him; he was utterly still, hand curled lightly around one of the tentacles, dark hair floating eerily around his pale face. Len hovered, anxiously counting the seconds. How long had he been under? Two minutes? Three? How much longer could he last?
And then, out of nowhere, the tentacle Spock was clinging to hurtled toward the surface. Jim and Len exchanged horrified glances and surged upwards, emerging just in time to see the monster hoist Spock into the air-
-and deposit him gently onto the panel they had clung to earlier.
What in the hell…?
Ignoring the krakgey for the time being, Len rushed to Spock's side and turned him over gently, trying to check his pulse.
"Fuck, fuck, fuck- Spock, talk to me, are you here?"
Spock twitched out of his grip and curled away, muttering nonsensically under his breath.
"He's…too many lines…boxes, lines, intelligent…Jim, Leonard…"
He lapsed into a strange mix of Vulcan and Standard while Jim and Len hovered, calling his name and shaking him, trying to get a response. Eventually Len lost his patience.
"Spock!" he shouted, gripping the Vulcan by the chin and forcing Spock to look him in the eyes. The normally sharp gaze was unfocused, groggy. "Give me somethin', here. Are you okay?!"
There was a moment of very tense silence.
"…His name is Cehy-lk," Spock said dazedly. "He says 'hello'."
He passed out.
Bones grabbed Spock and maneuvered him carefully onto the panel, checking his pulse. Jim, meanwhile, pushed aside his concern and decided to deal with their other, much larger problem.
He stared up at the enormous creature, which suddenly looked considerably friendlier. Looked like his XO had once again pulled their collective asses out of the fire. Ocean. Whatever. The thing tilted its head inquisitively, and Jim wondered how it had suddenly turned from terrifying to oddly cute-but, looking closer, it was clear. The giant eye had gone from a sickening yellow to warm brown, and the freaky teeth had retracted.
Actually, the brown kind of looked like-
Hesitantly, he reached out a hand towards a tentacle. The creature met him halfway, and the moment they made contact, its eye morphed from Spock-brown to Jim-blue.
Wondering how much information Spock had managed to transfer, Jim slowly removed his hand and moved it back and forth in a cautious wave, and, for the hell of it, made the ta'al*. After a moment, the tentacle in front of him waved back, and the monster went from ambivalent to downright cheery.
He loved new planets.
"Hey," he said, giving a charming (close-mouthed, do NOT show your teeth, Jim) smile. "So...I don't know if Spock got around to teaching you standard. Uh…blink if you can understand me?"
The krakgey blinked once with a watery plop. Jim grinned. Vulcans were awesome.
"So, uh," said Jim, suddenly feeling awkward. What did one discuss with a sea monster of legend? "You, um…what did Spock say your name was? Chelt? Shel-yk?"
The tentacle flicked and doused him with water. Jim sputtered.
"Okay, okay, I got it. Well I can't say that, so…how about we call you Shelly?"
A slow blink. Close enough.
"Okay, good," Jim said, and then jammed his hands over his ears as Shelly made a low, keening noise. "Wait, what's wrong?"
The large eye flickered to Jim's left, where Spock was lying prone under Bones' anxious care.
"You worried about Spock?" Jim asked, and the sad noise was repeated, a little quieter. "Yeah, join the club. We meet every time he does something stupid and overprotective, which is…pretty much all the time, actually."
Shelly chirped and actually rolled his giant eye. Jim grinned. He liked him.
Deciding that the crisis was averted for the moment, he drifted closer to where his friends were floating. Shelly took the hint and reached an inquisitive tentacle in the doctor's direction. Bones looked up and swore, nearly toppling off the side of the panel.
"It's okay," Jim said quickly. "He's friendly. How's Spock?"
Bones glanced dubiously at the hovering tentacle, but answered promptly. "His pulse is faster than I'd like, and I have no idea what's going on in that head of his, but he's come out of melds in worse shape than this. I think he'll be okay, assuming we get out of this water any time soon. He's cold."
Spock suddenly stirred, coughing and curling up a little on his side. He started to shiver again, and blinked one eye open blearily.
"Congratulations, Mr. Spock," said Jim, swimming a little closer and smiling at his friend. "You've saved us all. Again."
Spock blinked at him and pushed himself up onto one elbow. "Jim? Leonard?"
"Yeah, we're here, we're okay. How's your head?" Bones asked, helping Spock up with surprisingly gentle hands.
"…Only minor discomfort," Spock said, which translated to I have a fucking migraine from hell.
"I wish I had my med kit," Bones muttered.
Shelly made a bright, happy noise and poked Spock lightly in the chest with a tentacle. He blinked, muttering, "Fascinating." The krakgey apparently agreed, as he let out a joyful whistle and playfully ruffled Spock's hair.
"I think Shelly likes you," said Jim, snickering. The Vulcan's hair was sticking out wildly in all directions.
"Cehy-lk," Spock corrected sullenly. Then he held out a hand, fingers splayed in the meld position.
Bones snatched his arm back and growled, "What the hell do you think you're doin'? You passed out the first time, you idiot."
"That was a deeper meld," Spock snapped, sounding almost…sulky. Maybe Bones had a point about Vulcans, cats, and water. "I can establish lighter contact easily, and facilitate communication. Also, I will not be underwater and slowly drowning, so I would appreciate it if you attempted to use your admittedly limited logic before speaking, Doctor."
Yeah, okay. Definitely sulking.
"All right, all right, tone down the sass," Bones muttered, letting up his grip. Spock snatched back his hand with a totally-unemotional-tremble-before-my-logic glare, and Jim exchanged dubious glances with the doctor. Spock was pissed, which meant bad things for someone.
And with Jim's track record, that someone would almost definitely be him. Or, more likely, whatever poor bastard had failed to check the systems on their shuttlecraft.
Spock was back in contact with Shelly, and after a moment he said, "He is unsure of our intentions. He knows now we do not mean him harm, but remains wary of the colonists; they are murdering his kind. Cehy-lk's family was killed by hunters."
"Wait," said Jim, horrified. "The colonists hunt them? Intelligent beings? That breaks every colonization rule in the book."
Spock's brow furrowed in concentration. "It seems…attempts to communicate have been unsuccessful. They believed until now that humanoids were simple-minded predators, incapable of speech. It seems likely the colonists believed the same of them, and began hunting them for sport. Before that the krakgey were prepared to coexist peacefully, but they would not allow their race to be slaughtered."
"Godamned human pride," Bones murmured. Spock pulled away and blinked, bringing himself back into his own mind.
"Indeed, Doctor," he said, raising an eyebrow. "Though I am surprised to hear you, of all people, say such a thing."
"Just because I'm proud of my species doesn't mean I'm not aware of our flaws, Spock," said Bones grimly. "And it's not just humans-explorers are always subject to that kind of arrogance. They believe they're the best, most intelligent beings in the goddamned universe-"
"But after some of the things we've been through, we know that's not even close to the truth," said Jim quietly.
The communicator beeped, interrupting the moment, and Jim flipped it open. "Kirk here."
"Sulu here, sir. Mr. Scott's just told me the transporter is back online; we're testing it now."
"Awesome. Do you have a lock on our location?"
"We're rescanning now, Captain, I think you've drifted a bit since the cra-shit."
"What's wrong?" Jim demanded.
"Sir," said Sulu anxiously, "Our sensors show a large, possibly hostile life-form at your location. We have phasers locked, firing on your command-"
"No, no no no, do not shoot, Sulu," Jim said hastily. "His name is Shelly. He's nice."
There was a moment of silence over the channel. Jim winced.
"Yeah, that sounded better in my head. Don't fire, Mr. Sulu. The Commander made telepathic contact with the creature and discovered that he's intelligent. Spock transferred our language and purpose to the krakgey's mind, so he's no longer a threat. And yes, his name is Shelly. His real name is…Cheltk. Or something. And that's hard."
"…Order acknowledged. Did you hit your head, sir?"
"Don't be a smartass. And…only a little. Now get us out of the water before Spock dies of hypothermia and my leg falls off."
"Aye, sir. Ready to transport on your order."
"Great. Give us two minutes; I gotta finish up with a little problem. Kirk out."
He glanced up at his companions, who were mercifully silent. Most of the time their bickering was hilarious, but in crisis situations it sometimes got out of hand. He'd probably have to have a Serious Captain Talk about it, which sound…pretty terrible, actually. Maybe he'd just leave a plea for them not to kill each other in his will.
"Transporter's functional again. How're you two holding up?"
"We're okay here, Jim. How's your leg?"
"Still attached. Guess we gotta say goodbye."
He glanced up at the patiently floating Shelly, feeling a little sad. He would kind of miss the big guy.
God, he probably did have a head injury.
"Hey, listen," he said. Shelly looked at him, eyes shifting once more from brown to blue. "So, we have to go. I swear, we'll have a long talk with the idiots that are hunting your people. Think you can spread the word to not attack their ships?"
Shelly lightly touched Spock's hand, and after a moment the Vulcan nodded. "He says he will try, Captain. But they will not hesitate to defend their kind from any farther attacks."
Jim sighed. "I figured. Spock, I'm thinking that we might have to convince these people to relocate. The site wasn't good anyway, and they're interfering with the development of an intelligent species."
Spock nodded. "I agree, Captain, although I do not believe the colonists or Starfleet will be pleased with that decision."
Jim snorted. "Hell, you'd think Starfleet would be happy- we're actually supporting the Prime Directive. For once."
He turned to Shelly. "All right," he said. "Guess this is goodbye. Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I say goodnight till it be morrow, etc."
"Uh," he said. "That was- you know what, never mind. See ya."
"Dif-tor heh smusma*, Cehy-lk," Spock said respectfully. Shelly whistled and bumped his shoulder affectionately. With that, they krakgey began to swim away, sinking slowly under the surface.
On impulse, Jim waved. After a moment, Shelly waved back, singing out a soft, warm pitch. It sounded like a goodbye.
"Sometimes I really like our job," Jim said, watching the creature disappear under the waves. Spock and Bones looked at him, each quirking an eyebrow. "Seriously. Even when we're stranded in the middle of the ocean, freezing and close to drowning, we still get experiences like that. This is why we came out here, you know?"
"The potential for scientific discovery is satisfying, Captain," Spock agreed sagely.
And then Jim had a thought.
It was one of those thoughts that would have landed him in jail back on Earth- a really, really bad, stupid thought. He really shouldn't-
Oh yeah, he totally was.
"You know," he started innocently, "It sure is a shame that Spock never learned to swim. Isn't it, Bones?"
Bones caught the glint in his eye and grinned mischievously. "A damn shame, Jim."
Spock glanced between them warily. "Captain, I believe it would be wise to return to the ship-"
Jim continued, ignoring him. "All those experiences he'll miss out on…scuba diving, beach parties, shore leave on actual shores…"
"A real tragedy," Bones agreed solemnly.
"Sure would be a problem if he-"
Without warning, he shoved Spock off of the platform. With an entirely unexpected and hilarious yelp, the Vulcan crashed into the water face first. Bones doubled over, cackling wildly. Jim grinned.
"You're gonna die," the doctor gasped through his laughter. "He's gonna end you."
"Oh, but it'll be worth it," said Jim, smirking. He flipped open the communicator. "Energize."
When they materialized on the platform, they were all on the floor. Bones and Jim were giggling hysterically, and Spock was lying face down, sopping wet and spitting out seawater. The transporter operator exchanged a bemused look with Scotty.
"Um…sirs?" the engineer asked timidly. "Everything all right?"
"We're all good here, Scotty," said Jim, snickering. And, because he had a death wish, "How was your swimming lesson, Mr. Spock?"
Spock looked up.
The room suddenly grew very quiet. Jim stopped laughing.
Spock picked himself off the transporter pad, standing gracefully and straightening his soaked uniform with all of the dignity of an affronted diplomat. He calmly smoothed his bangs back into place, ignoring the tense silence around him.
And then he looked the captain dead in the eyes.
"Jim," he said quietly. "Run."
For once, Jim thought it might be best to defer to his First Officer's sound advice.
*For new fans- the ta'al is the name of the Vulcan salute.
*Live long and prosper
Um I definitely was not watching Star Trek IV: The One with the Whales (the voyage home whatevs) last night nope
(yeah I was)